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School for the Deaf finds solution to polythene/sachet plastics

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March 23, 2011 Hohoe, March 23, GNA - The Vocational and Information and Communication Technology department of the Volta School for the Deaf at Hohoe, in the Volta Region has taken giant strides to recycle polyethylene and water sachet plastics on a pilot base to help to reduce the plastic menace.

Under the initiative of Mr Scott Davies Anderson, an American Peace Corps Volunteer and in collaboration with the Research Action for Sustainable Development (RASUD), a Hohoe-based not-for-profit organisation, the polyethylene material was identified as raw material for use by pupils and students of the special school.

He told the Ghana News Agency on Tuesday that instead of relying on paper and fabric templates for designs and sewing, students made use of cheap sachet rubbers sewn into large sheets to serve the same purpose.

Mr Anderson said already some 300 messenger bags and about 100 purse or wallets have been produced for sale, confirming that proceeds have been used to procure eight computers, colour and black/white laser printers and other accessories for the ICT department.

He added that other products from the department include pillow covers, bedspreads, fabric bags, apron from fabric and rubber with the main production material being cut-offs collected from tailors and dressmakers

Mr Anderson said the best local ingenuity was the manufacture of umbrella by students from sachet rubber, which is being fine-tuned for the market.

He said its clientele base was largely network volunteers in the Hohoe Municipal area and other tourists, who were anxious of carrying exceptional artifacts and souvenirs to their home countries usually settled with their products, which costs between eight and 12 Ghana Cedis.

Mr Anderson said its internally generated funds were used to procure additional five looms and threads for the weaving industry in the school, producing Kente hats, bags and assorted dresses.

He said his outfit was planning to domesticate the weaving of baskets with sachet threads instead of the traditional palm fronds to create more usage for the rubberized nuisance on the environment.

The Peace Corps said plans were afoot to acquire an outlet in Hohoe in the short-run while targeting one in the capital city in the near future to display its wares.

Mr Anderson said the source of raw material was the environment, particularly market squares, public gatherings among other areas.

He said his major motivation would be to create the necessary public awareness that off-the-cuff thoughts, which were unscientific, could assist in the fight for the menace of polythene and mitigate its effects on the environment.

Mr Lloyd Titus Amedume, Executive Director of RASUD disclosed that a target of 25,000 empty water sachet bags found littered all over would be collected and used as receptacles for nursing palm fruits and other tree crops.

He said RASUD would collaborate with a US-based volunteer group, Trellis to collect about 25 per cent of polythene bags throughout the region and sachet as re-cyclical materials sewn into spread sheets and used as weed killer.

Mr Amedume called for replication of the concept towards the sustainable management of the environment while securing it for generations yet unborn.

Mr Daniel S. Cudjoe, Head of the School, said with the inception of the innovation about a year-and-half ago, signs of visible changes could be identified in pupils and students' attitude towards the disposal of waste in general and especially polythene plastics.

He acknowledged the nobility in the ground-breaking feat for enhancing the raw material base, principally, in the vocational department, which consist of carpentry, weaving, batik/tie and dye, dressmaking and tailoring.

Mr Cudjoe said the school continues to grapple with obsolete equipment, lack of rehabilitation of old blocks and bad access roads.

He appealed to stakeholders to re-channel their corporate social responsibilities towards supporting the School to equip students with the requisite skills, which would take them away from the "begging phenomenon" and make them self-reliant after completing training.

Governments and research institutions are still exploring measures towards finding lasting solutions to the menace of the environmental pollutant, polyethylene plastics, which are not biodegradable.

Researchers are working to develop biodegradable polythenes that will disintegrate due to bacterial action or exposure to sunlight.

For instance researchers are incorporating starch molecules into some plastic resins during the manufacturing stage with exposure to sunlight facilitating its decomposition.


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